Director: Steve Miner
Producer: Steve Miner
Writer: Ron Kurz
Starring: Amy Steel, John Furey, Warrington Gillette
TRIGGER WARNING: IMAGES CONTAIN BLOOD.
SPOILER ALERT: THE DEATHS OF SOME CHARACTERS ARE REVEALED IN THIS REVIEW.
When FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1981) begins, we find ourselves in suburbia. A little boy’s feet scatter a rain puddle as we listen to him sing. His mother calls, and he leaves the frame. Then, two heavy, black boots step forward, in his place. The theme plays, but we already know: Jason (Warrington Gillette) is still out there. And how do we know? Because Alice (Adrienne King) told us at the end of the last film. Alice managed to survive the massacre of the last film, but her victory is short-lived: in FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2, sheltered in the apparent safety of the suburbs, she is first to die.
After Alice’s death—which we are told occurs two months after the events of the first film—the narrative skips forward three years. In a post-credits scene that parallels the post-credits scene of the first installment, two youths stride through the same idyllic town where we saw Annie search for a ride to Camp Crystal Lake. Closely behind them is another familiar face from Part 1: Ralph’s (Walt Gorney). He squints at the two. “I warned the others,” he says, reminding us as much as them. “You’re doomed!” To their credit, Jeff (Bill Randolph) and Sandra (Marta Kober) look alarmed. Still—unfortunately for them—they quickly shake off their misgivings and continue on to their friend Ted’s (Stu Charno) to catch a ride to a training camp for camp counselors (a camp for camp counselors—interesting twist!). The camp does not take place at Camp Crystal Lake, which still remains abandoned, but on a site just across the lake. (Everyone makes a big deal of this distinction, for some reason, despite the fact that the camps are practically next-door to each other.)
The camp for counselors is run by ultra-serious Paul (John Furey), assisted by his girlfriend, Ginny (Amy Steel). Ginny is immediately set apart from the other campers, even before we know about her position as assistant. She arrives late to the first day’s orientation, roaring in in a red convertible. Like Alice, she is dressed androgynously and is seemingly only a sexual object to the sole adult, Paul. Furthermore, Alice is herself an adult, a graduate student, in fact, studying child psychology. All of this, of course, adds up to suggest that Ginny is the Final Girl of FRIDAY THE 13TH’s second installment.
Significantly, Ginny is the only counselor who refuses to joke about Jason. On the night of Jason’s massacre, half of the campers remain on-site, and those remaining head out to a local bar for a night on the town. That day, Jeff and Sandra had been brought in by the local police for trespassing at Camp Crystal Lake. At the bar, Ted expresses his skepticism, as Paul nods along: “Two of our kids got brought in because some girl freaked out and fell off a canoe.” Ginny is unmoved. “Well, what if there really was a Jason?” she muses. Thinking out loud, she speculates about what he would be like: according to legend, he is unhealthily attached to his mother, for whom he grieves. She observes that he also would be a young adult, yet socially and intellectually stunted from his isolation. She also expresses sympathy for him having to witness his mother’s death—and hypothesizes that he might be confused about the concept of death himself. For her ability to correctly analyze Jason, and more—which I can’t get into without spoiling the incredible climax of the film—Ginny is an unusual Final Girl. She fits the profile, generally, but she is a much more dynamic character than Alice, for example.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 continues to make much of slasher motifs. The opening scene depicting Alice is a textbook example of the horror film director’s preference for the “red herring” shot. For instance, director Steve Miner (who goes on to direct FRIDAY THE 13TH PART III , as well as HALLOWEEN H20 ) spoofs PSYCHO (1960) with a medium-shot of Alice ripping back the shower curtain—and remaining calm, as nothing lies on the other side. Later, another common shot, of a tea kettle screaming, is employed after Jason gets to Alice.
FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 is singularly compelling for many reasons … the uniqueness of Ginny as Final Girl, the scene of Alice’s continued PTSD and murder in the film’s opening, our first peek at Jason (visually, psychologically, and anthropologically). It is also distinct in the complex gender dynamics—male deaths are more sensationalized than female deaths, for example. The first two deaths we see are male, and the third, a double-murder, includes a man and a woman. Interestingly, the shot-reverse shot exposes a predator who is not always Jason: sometimes, it is Scott (Russell Todd), a particularly predatory young man who is constantly sexually harassing gorgeous Terry (Kirsten Baker) (much to her annoyance). Scott’s death is the most violent, leading one to wonder whether Steve Miner is purposely turning the slasher on its head, even as he pays homage to its beginnings.